x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

‘Cool Hand Lillard’ keeps Blazers charging

"We could have folded," said Damian Lillard after Portland blew a fourth-quarter lead and led Toronto take them to overtime on Sunday, but "once we got to overtime ... we went on the floor and we did it" for a 118-110 victory.

Damian Lillard is averaging 20.1 points per game in 10 contests for Portland this year. Jared Wickerham / Getty Images / AFP
Damian Lillard is averaging 20.1 points per game in 10 contests for Portland this year. Jared Wickerham / Getty Images / AFP

TORONTO, Canada // A steady hand and cool demeanor helped Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers.

Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge each scored 25 points, Nicolas Batum added a season-high 24, and the Trail Blazers won their sixth straight with a 118-110 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Sunday.

Lillard was 3 for 3 from the floor in the extra period as the Blazers escaped after blowing a 17-point lead in regulation.

“We didn’t have a reason to be all riled up,” Lillard said. “They played well getting back into the game. I think we were calm because we knew what we needed to do to win the game and we were able to get that done.”

Rudy Gay forced overtime with a buzzer-beating layup and tied a season high with 30 points to go with 10 rebounds. DeMar DeRozan scored 29 points and Jonas Valanciunas added a season-high 19.

“The overtime we played well, especially defensively,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “I was proud of the way we competed in overtime, made plays and got the win.”

The Blazers made a season-high 15 3-pointers, finishing 15 for 32 from beyond the arc. Toronto made just three.

“It’s tough when they’re knocking down shots like that,” Gay said. “No matter how much we rotate, move it around and switch, it’s tough to play when a team has it going. I’m not happy they made shots, but I’m happy with the effort we put forth.”

Portland’s long-distance accuracy wasn’t a surprise to the Raptors coach Dwane Casey, who talked about Portland’s potent offence before the game.

“(They’re) one of the best offensive teams that we’ve seen,” Casey said. “I think as far as scoring the basketball, averaging 103 points a game, they are a very explosive offensive team so we’ve got to be on point. We’ve got to guard the 3-point line.”

Toronto was just 2 for 12 from the floor in overtime, while the Blazers continued to patiently move the ball and connect on 5-for-8 field goals.

Lillard wasn’t thrilled with the fourth-quarter collapse, but was pleased with the way his team responded after it.

“We could have folded,” Lillard said. “Once we got to overtime, on the bench we just said we need to get some stops, we need to execute and pull this game out. Then we went on the floor and we did it.”

Batum hoped the young Blazers would use the game as a lesson.

“This wasn’t the first time we have done it,” Batum said. “Four or five times in a row we’ve had a good lead and had to close out the game and the other team came back. It paid off right now because we won in overtime and when you are up 15, 18 points with seven minutes to go, we have to close out the game.”


Grizzlies 97, Kings 86

Forward Zach Randolph scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, leading the Memphis Grizzlies to a victory over the Sacramento Kings.

Center Marc Gasol and guard Mike Conley each added 19 points for Memphis, while guard Tony Allen scored 12.

Forward Travis Outlaw led the Kings with 18 points off the bench, all in the second half.

The Grizzlies (5-5), who swept the four-game series between the teams last season, beat the Kings for the fifth straight time.

Sacramento (2-7) lost for the seventh time in their past eight games.

Lakers 114, Pistons 99

Jordan Hill impressed, dropping 24 points on Detroit and pulling down 17 rebounds as Los Angeles (5-7) continue to scrape around .500 without Kobe Bryant.

Steve Blake provided 16 assists and Jodie Meeks and Nick Young each scored 19. Wesley Johnson chipped in 13 points on 6-for-8 shooting.

Detroit (3-6) scuffled behind a poor shooting night from Brandon Jennings (8-for-22, 23 points, 14 assists). Andre Drummond supplied 14 points on 7-for-9 shooting with 13 rebounds in the loss.